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Arius Woods

A young brunette girl was asleep in the middle of a meadow, on a warm summer day. Birds chirped around her, and deer grazed on the grass just off to her left. She rolled over, and spooked the deer, they galloped away in fright. A small voice was heard over the rumble of hooves striking the ground. “Hey!”

The girl’s eyes popped open, and she sat up, erect, “Who’s there?” She looked around her, and was momentarily puzzled. She had not fallen asleep in a warm meadow. She had never even been to a meadow! All her life, she grew up in the city, at the town orphanage.

“Hey, get off me, please!” The voice said, with a harsh tone.

The girl stood up, and saw, under her, was a little grey rabbit. She grabbed the rabbit, and it let her hold it, and while she was stroking it, it looked at her. “Do I look like a teddy bear?”

“Aaah!” The girl dropped the rabbit and back away in horror. “Y-y-you’re a rabbit, you cannot talk! Can you?”

“I’m not sure, can I?” said the grey rabbit, laughing.

The girl kept backing up, and lost her footing, and fell. She landed with a soft thump. “W-who are you?” She asked her eyes still wide, and her breath uneven.

The rabbit hopped over, and sat on her leg, “I’m Robert the rabbit, and you are?”

“Leighton.” Was the single word reply, of the scared brunette girl.

“Well, Leighton, it is so nice to meet you. So what brings you to Arius Woods?” The rabbit hopped off her leg and closer to her hand.

Leighton looked around and soaked in her surroundings. The woods were bright and pulsing with life. Deer grazed just a few feet away, but Leighton saw their mouths moving. They were talking to each other! “Robert,” said Leighton “Can all animals talk in Arius Woods?”

Robert scratched his ear and replied, “If they want to. Some animal’s are still believers in what we call the ‘old ways’, meaning they do not talk, and act as if they were wild. Most big cats and predators are fond of ‘old ways’.”

Leighton watched the deer in amazement. They would stop and eat, and talk to one another. One of them found a patch of honeysuckle, and they each took a turn eating on it. Leighton was slightly envious of the deer’s life. It was so peaceful out here, in Arius Woods, so unlike the city. “So, obviously, you are not fond of the ‘old ways’, how do you talk?”

“You make us animals’ out to be dense creatures. We are extremely bright, you know. We just chose to not speak, and act like animals. Deep down, we are just as civil and domesticated as you, Leighton.” Robert hopped around, and picked a clover, and ate it.

“Can I go and converse with other animals’, Robert? I mean, will they talk to me?” Leighton asked.

Robert was still eating his clover when he replied, “Sure! Go say hi to us animals’ of Arius, just make sure you’re back here by twilight, that’s when the predators come out and play.”

Leighton nodded her head, and proceeded to walk into the woods. She walked for about thirty minutes, touching the trees and staring at oddly shaped or vivid flowers. She finally got tired, and just sat down next to a clump of daisies. She watched the daisies, how they blew in the gentle summer time breeze. Leighton looked even closer, because she thought she saw something move upon the daisies stem. It was a caterpillar, with neon colors, it had a cobalt blue body, and yellow rings. Leighton wondered whether she could speak to the caterpillar, too. “Hello, Mr. Caterpillar?”

The caterpillar was inching its way up the stem, but stopped abruptly. It turned to look at Leighton. It stood up, a whole four inches, which Leighton thought, was a rather tall height for a caterpillar. “Hello, Mr. Caterpillar?” Leighton said again.

The caterpillar proceeded to stare at her, so Leighton finally thought that the caterpillar could not speak. “What do you want?” said an angry little voice.

The caterpillar was in a defiant stance; all its hands were on its hips. Leighton watched in amazement, the human-like qualities of the caterpillar. “I am sorry; I just merely wanted to speak to you, if that was okay.” Leighton smiled.

“Sure, I guess. I do not have much time for chit-chat, though…I am very, very busy.” It started to go to work on building something that Leighton was not sure about.

“Mr. Caterpillar, is that what I shall call you?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, Mr. Caterpillar, what are you building?”

“A cocoon.” He replied.

Leighton smiled, and clapped her hands in excitement, “Yay!”

The caterpillar stopped what it was doing, and looked puzzled by her clapping. “Why do you clap?”

“Because!” she said with enthusiasm “You will be turning into a butterfly!”

“But I do not want to turn into a butterfly, you see. Butterflies represent girls. What boy wants a butterfly?” The caterpillar replied acidly.

Leighton’s smile vanished and she looked down at her newest…Acquaintance. “Well, it has been a pleasure meeting you, Mr. Caterpillar. I really must go, you see, for my friend, Robert, told me to be back by twilight.”

“Why?” replied the caterpillar.

“Because,” Leighton started “The predators come out. And I, you see, do not wish to be eaten.”

“The predators here, they do not eat humans, they eat rabbits, and other yummy things.” The caterpillar had a cold, cruel smile upon his face.

Leighton thought about what the rabbit and caterpillar were telling her. What should I do? Thought Leighton Should I go? But, I do love meeting new animals. Hmmm, I think I shall stay, just a bit longer. Leighton smiled and proceeded to talk to the caterpillar a while longer. “Well,” Said Leighton “It is getting late, I best get going. I do hope Robert is not mad at me.”

“Slow down, Leighton, you do not need to hurry. Nothing will hurt you in Arius Woods. We are all brought up by the ‘future rules’ we do not harm people.” The caterpillar had a sly smile on his face.

Leighton started relaxing, realizing she was not going to be harmed; she struck up even more conversation from the caterpillar, “I know. But Robert–the rabbit I was telling you about– told me that some of the larger cats and predators are still very fond of the ‘old ways’ of Arius Woods. I find this to be a curious place, so unlike us humans.”

“You think that between the ‘old ways’ and ‘future rules’ you are unlike us? I do not believe that. As humans, do you guys have a choice between right and wrong?” Spoke the caterpillar in a most wise tone.

“Well…Yes.”

“Well, it is the same here. Some believe that the right choice is ‘future rules’. And yet, most predators think the easier way to go is the ‘old ways’ that way they do not have to domestic themselves. They would rather go around and continue acting like savages.” The caterpillar was relaxing against the stem of the daisy.

“Wait!” cried Leighton “You said that everyone here was brought up by the ‘future rules’ you just said that, most predators, still go by the ‘old ways’!”

The caterpillar sauntered over, with a smirk on his neon blue face, “Yes, I did say that. Once again, you had a choice between right, and wrong. You knew you should have gone home when Robert told you, but you decided you would listen to me. I deceived you, little girl, so you better be on your way. I hear the tiger, Roxelin, comes by here often, at night.”

“Why you little deceiving worm!” Yelled Leighton, just then, she got closer to where the caterpillar was, and flicked him off the stem. She saw him flying through the air, all of his hands waving wildly. She heard something small hit some leaves, she was guessing it was him.

Leighton was walking back in the direction she hoped was the meadow. She was tripping over branches, and stumbling in the brush. Weeds seemed like they were coming alive and wrapping around her feet. Leighton kept trudging on, the thought of meeting Roxelin, was even more terrifying then spending the night by herself in Arius Woods.

Finally, Leighton was to the point of exhaustion. She had been walking for what seemed like three straight hours. She sat down, under a large tree, and rested her head on the trunk. Just then, she heard something move to her right. A twig snapped under the weight of something. “W-who’s there,” said the shaky voice of Leighton.

“Hmmm, a little girl, we haven’t been graced with the presence of one of those in a long time,” said a smooth, cold voice.

Leighton stood up, and pressed up against the tree. Tears started streaming down her cheeks; she stayed quiet, though, not wanting to upset who ever owned the voice in the thicket. “Please, just leave me alone.”

“Sorry,” Suddenly, a tiger appeared, it was the most gorgeous, cruelest things she’d ever seen “But, I haven’t had a filling dinner in a long time. Would you like to join me?”

“No.”

“C’mon, sure you would, I know it. We’d have a good laugh, and for you, it would be your last.” The tiger started laughing at his little joke.

“Who are you!?”

“I am, Roxelin, the head of all the tigers in Arius Woods.” He stretched, and then started pacing in front of Leighton, but he never took his eyes off of her.

Leighton inhaled sharply. She knew she would meet him tonight. He had probably been following her since she’d left the caterpillar.

Leighton started sprinting in the other direction.

Roxelin was a lot faster than her, and caught up with her quickly. While running, she tripped over an invisible log, and fell face first, on the ground. “You really thought you could out run me?”

Leighton barely lifted her head, just in time to see the tiger jumped at her, canines’ bared―

“Aaaaaaah!”

Leighton sat up in her bed, forehead soaking with sweat. She heard her mother’s feet hurriedly coming down the hall. “Leighton! Leighton? Are you okay,” called her mother.

“Yes, it was…Just a dream. It was very realistic though. I’m okay Momma, promise.” Her mother kissed her cheek, and then exited the room. Leighton still sat there, replaying the dream in her head. She lifted her arm to turn on her lamp, when a sharp pain, made her yelp with pain.

When had she broken her arm?




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